I couldn’t quite understand why I would feel so frustrated when well-meaning people would constantly remind me of how busy I was.
They would say things like, “I know you’re busy but…” or “You and Willie (my husband) are always so busy,” in a matter-of-fact way. It seemed that before stating a thought or asking a question, they needed to provide this observation. Each time I would hear it, it would trigger a feeling within me of frustration and disappointment because it was obviously a problem that I often needed to be reminded of in my non-busy moments. As this continued, I started to consider what I needed to do to become less, ‘busy’.
The issue was that I knew I was busy but didn’t fully know how to get off the roller coaster. I clearly wasn’t doing a good job of making busy look easy or acceptable, however, everything I was doing seemed necessary. Being a wife, raising children in a blended family, doing ministry, being a writer, trying to grow a business, and spending time with God all kept me — well, Busy. I couldn’t ignore the truth in their statement yet. I wanted some solutions rather than an obvious observation of the problem.
Have you ever felt that way?
In need of more than constant reminders of a problem?
That was me, until one day I had an incredible shifting in perspective that would change my word choice. It’s the day I decided to stop using the word ‘busy’ and start using a more true statement.
What comes to mind when you hear the word busy?
Is it a to-do list that keeps growing?
The pile of papers you leave on your work desk?
Cooking dinner while holding the phone in one hand to respond to a friend while yelling, ‘stop’ to your teenager who is annoying his younger siblings for the millionth time?
Does any of this seem familiar? This is a typical day in my world but I know I am not alone.
I want to let you know that whatever the myriad of tasks are that has caused you to fall in the category of busy, we are going to redefine the problem so that we can recognize the solution.
Take a moment and visualize your Thanksgiving or Christmas plate. This is a judgement-free email so no worries. Mine is usually a large plate overflowing with delicious, tasty, good food that I tend to only consume once, maybe twice a year. Now back to your plate. As you begin to indulge in the food one bite at a time, the plate becomes emptier and your stomach gets fuller. You have now exchanged a full plate for a full stomach. It is at that moment that you realize that no matter how good the food is, no matter where it is (on the plate or in your stomach) it is simply too much.
I know you are probably thinking, what does this have to do with being busy. Everything my friend! That plate represents your busy life. Your choice to fill it up to overflowing or portion it out determines how you will feel in the end.
The full plate looks amazing but when it becomes a full stomach, it doesn’t always feel so great. That, my friend, is what busy looks and feels like. Every yes is another item of food added to the plate that will have to be consumed into your already full stomach.
Here has been my secret to going from a busy life to a better life, changing the terminology from “I am busy,” to “My plate is full.” It’s that simple. This visualization has helped me to take better inventory of my commitments, time, and responsibilities. I consider what needs to be on my plate and what needs to be removed so that I can enjoy the experience of life.
When people say, ‘Rachel you’re so busy’ I correct them and say, ‘Well my plate is a bit full right now but I’m removing things slowly but surely.’ Or if they say, ‘I know you’re busy but…’ I will respond by saying, ‘Let me see what’s on my plate.‘ Busy doesn’t give me the visual I need to really pause and take everything into consideration.
Sure I’ve had some tough conversations and said ‘no’ to things I really wanted to say ‘yes’ to, but when I think of the damage I was doing to the best version of myself by not taking inventory of what was on my plate and constantly adding more items, I knew it was worth it.
Some of you have been wondering for some time how to stop the roller coaster of busyness. You’ve tried so many other things but today I want to invite you to try changing your Perspective. Perspective is one of the most powerful things God has given us to help us embrace the life he wants us to have. This is why the bible tells us, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Psalms 23:7). This scripture is all about perspective.
In addition to perspective, a key part to living Better over Busy is understanding Boundaries.
Several years ago I almost ran myself crazy trying to be everything to everyone all the time. Friends would call me and I’d walk away from family to support them in their life-altering marriage or personal crisis. I would accept every invitation for hangouts and speaking engagements I was presented with. I would completely halt my life for any and everyone. Eventually, I realized I was losing precious moments with my husband, children, and God, trying to be everything to everyone.
So I stopped.
I stopped saying yes to being the ongoing sitter
I stopped saying yes to being the spur of the moment counselor
I stopped saying yes to the last minute invites and non-fitting opportunities
I looked at my plate and I began to set boundaries around my time. It was hard. Some people pretended I had never done anything for them a day in their lives and others pretended I was the worse person in the world for setting boundaries. Someone even told me I was wrong for telling them I wasn’t joining them for a girl’s outing.
They survived and so did I.
Those boundaries helped me to begin the process of creating a beautiful and healthy plate that I could be thankful for. Now, I look back and realize how much my family and my relationship with God suffered because I didn’t have those boundaries.
As I visualize boundaries, I see a perfectly portioned plate. More of what I enjoy and less of what I don’t. Those boundaries create balance. Las week, I read a post that said,
“Balance is not doing all the things in one day.
It’s knowing how much time and energy you need to devote to the right things at the right time.”
This is what we are living to create. This is why we have chosen to go from a busy life to a Better Life. So that we can enjoy all the wonderful things that come with having a Balanced life.
This isn’t going to be a secret formula, instead, it will is a set of tools to add to your toolbox. I’m still working on this myself and tweaking it often. Someday’s it goes well and other days I have to press the reset button but everyday I get to experience life anew as I become more aware of how this new perspective is creating the life I want to live.
Looking forward to you joining me on the journey!